DePuy Hip Replacement Implant Lawsuit News

Hip Implant LawyersA jury in Chicago rejected claims this week that the DePuy orthopedics unit of Johnson & Johnson inappropriately marketed an artificial hip, which the company recalled in 2010.
This comes in direct contrast to the $8.3 million dollar verdict awarded last month against DePuy in Los Angeles District Court which found that the company had knowingly marketed a faulty hip implant that it later recalled.
This verdict came in the second trial of over 10,000 pending lawsuits involving the all-metal device, which was known as the Articular Surface Replacement or A.S.R. This was part of a once-popular class of metal-on-metal hip implants developed almost a decade ago. It was an attempt to improve on traditional joints that were made of metal and plastic. But shortly after the release of the A.S.R., complaints started coming from patients and doctors about implant failure and tissue and bone damage caused by metallic debris. Patients typically cite pain and say they are immobilized by joint dislocations, infections and bone fractures.
The evidence presented against DePuy in both trials was remarkably similar and centered on the fact that the company continued to market the device even after they learned the joint was defective. In both trials internal DePuy documents were introduced that showed beyond a doubt that company officials knew that the design of the A.S.R. was flawed long before they recalled the device and even considered redesigning the implant. The documents also showed that they never shared that information with doctors and patients
It remains unclear why the juries returned such differing verdicts, but in both trials the evidence against DePuy was staggering.
In the Chicago trial the jury was concerned whether the plaintiff’s need for a revision surgery was because of the defect in the product or for some other reason. Apparently, the injured plaintiff in this case continued to have pain and problems even after the DePuy ASR was removed. The DePuy attorneys had argued that the plaintiff had a metal sensitivity to any metal in her body and that her problem would have occurred no matter what type of metal implant she had.
In my experience as a trial lawyer, juries frequently demand stronger evidence than the law requires before they will award millions of dollars in a case. In cases where they have questions about the strength of the evidence they render a defense verdict.
I believe that the evidence is very strong that the DePuy ASR is a defective and dangerous product and that is why it was recalled. The verdict in Chicago certainly did not affirm that the DePuy ASR is a good product. Rather the verdict hinged on the causation of the plaintiff’s pain, not whether the product was defective or not.
The company’s strategy in both trials has so far been one of denial. In his opening statement in Chicago, DePuy attorney Richard Sarver stated, “We absolutely didn’t say the product is a defective product.” To say the recall “is an admission of a defect, it is absolutely absurd.”
Yet in both trials internal documents were introduced that showed consulting surgeons had warned officials at DePuy the implant was faulty and that, by 2008, they knew the cup needed to be redesigned. Even more telling was that DePuy’s own internal estimates that indicated the joint was projected to fail within five years in about 40 percent of the patients. That represents a failure rate eight times higher than most orthopedic implants
DePuy president Andrew Ekdahl downplayed the internal findings and testified that the device was withdrawn, not because it was defective, but simply because “it didn’t meet clinical expectations.”
Yet in the interim between the two trials a study was released by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, AAOS, which puts the current revision rate of patients with ASR implants at a staggering 40 percent. This number was eerily similar to the 40 percent failure rate DePuy arrived at internally. While the company can continue to attempt to discount its own findings, the study by AAOS is harder to counter.
There are numbers of other jury trials scheduled this year and each case has variations and differences, if DePuy continues with its defense strategy I believe in the end most of the verdicts will be against them. DePuy executives knowingly marketed a defective product and yet they insisted — right up to a moment the device was recalled — that it was safe.
The ASR is one of the worst hip implants ever put on the market and for that reason there is no need to be discouraged by an early defense verdict. With thousands of trials remaining, it will be the job of trial lawyers to fight for the rights of injured consumers and protect them from major corporations like DePuy. The rights of patients, not profits, should always be paramount.
The DePuy A.S.R. is part of the biggest medical device failures in decades and it was the first to be recalled in 2010. Since then the Smith & Nephew R3 and the Zimmer Durom Cup have also been recalled. The Stryker Rejuvenate was recalled in 2012 for metal contamination as well but in that case the metal was leaching from the modular neck joint. Metal-on-metal joints still on the market such as the Biomet Magnum, the Encore and the Wright Profemur Converse, Dynasty, and Lineage are also failing at unacceptably high rates.